Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982


The following interview with Simon Kalmas is being held on May 25, 1982 at his home in Southfield, Michigan. The interviewer: Arthur Kirsch.

I'll start off in asking you uh, where--and first of all, your name.

Yeah, well my name is Simon J. Kalmas.

And uh, where...

And in Yiddish--in case, if anybody's interested--is uh, Shimon Yosef Kalmus.


My dad--my father was Israel, my mother was Yetta. We lived in Drobin, Poland, which is thirty-one kilometers from the city of ......

And when were you born?

...and a hundred and one kilometer from Warsaw. I was born during the First World War. Lived in Poland for twenty-four years, 'til the war broke out. And uh, and that's where I went to the whole megillah.

What was your father's occupation?

A blecher--a tinsmith--in Yiddish it's a blecher. Well, we did tin roofs, gutters. Uh, roofing and gutters, or appliances, or other tinsmithing that was necessary for the, for the uh, people.

All right, the, the city in which you lived--describe it a little bit. Large, small, what kind of a Jewish population...

It was a small village. Uh, I believe it was a hundred and fifty Jewish families. We had one bet ha midrash and one bet ha knesset. Plus all sects of Chasidim. We had the ???, the Gerer Chadisim, the ??? Chasidim, the Aleksander Chasidim, and also Mizrahi--which they had uh, a minyan, you know, every Friday night and Saturday. It's uh, religious. Uh, very interesting. The city was typical by itself--the shtetl. We had a mikvah, we had a alt besoylem, nay besoylem, until the Germans came in and leveled the old, old, uh, cemetery--leveled it off. So they need the sand for building roads. So the bones, skeletons, everything was all over the places.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn